The U.S. incarcerates children under 18 at a rate of over 6 times that of any other developed nation and spends roughly $5 billion a year — or about $80,000 per child — on youth detention. Approximately 60,500 children are confined in correctional facilities all over the country.
Of all 50 states, Florida has the highest rate of youth incarceration. The youth detention centers are among the most deplorable conditions imaginable. If your child faces the juvenile justice system, do your best to seek alternative methods he or she may be able to pay for their wrongdoing. A criminal defense attorney who has years of experience working with juveniles and their parents or guardians can help you explore alternatives.
Juvenile Correctional Facility or Fight Club?
Florida is one of very few states that has handed over all responsibility of youth correctional facilities to private companies. Private prisons are not subject to the same rules and regulations as state prisons are, and the hiring standards for staff are almost nonexistent. Employees at youth detention centers often do not make a living wage and are often not qualified to work with children. Some even have criminal histories that are no better than the records of the children in their care. As a result, there have been several scandals at youth detention centers all over the state
After the death of a 17-year-old inmate in a Miami-Dade County facility, the Miami Herald discovered many abuses of authority taking place in facilities all over South Florida. Just recently, they exposed several allegations of staff-organized fights taking place at the Palm Beach Juvenile Correctional Facility.
Investigators discovered allegations from as far back as 2014, the year that an inmate suffered extensive injuries after a fight he claimed was organized by the staff. Teens reported deplorable conditions: food shortages, maggot-infested food, wearing threadbare and filthy clothing, lacking essentials like soap, toothpaste, deodorant, and socks; poor medical care, overflowing toilets, and crumbling infrastructure. Officers sometimes beat them. For entertainment, officers set up fights between the detained youth. For extra excitement, they’d sometimes place bets. Officers frequently incentivized teens to fight by bribing them with treats like honey buns in a practice that became known as “honeybunning.”
The officers created a world of chaos in which youth were frequently physically injured and emotionally damaged. Studies reveal that these conditions may actually exacerbate the problem and work to increase juvenile recidivism, as low-risk and nonviolent youth in these facilities pick up criminal behavior they otherwise may not have developed.
At The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel, attorney Brian Gabriel is committed to seeking the best outcome for each criminal case placed in his hands. He is no stranger to providing strong representation for youth and their families, and can provide information about the possibility of attending a juvenile diversion program. Call 561-622-5575 or contact us online for a free consultation.